DraftKings Sportsbook released their win total over/under lines for the 2023 college football season for Power Five teams last week, giving us a chance to take an early look at how Vegas thinks each team in the SEC will fare this upcoming fall. Let’s take a look at each line, using what we know about these rosters and coaching staffs, returning players, their schedule, and just plain old-fashioned vibes.
If you feel strongly about a team this early in advance of the season, it’s an opportunity to make some money before public perception crystallizes and the lines sharpen. I will take a look at each team and decide if I like them to over or under their win total, or maybe I’ll chicken out and call it a “stay away.” Let’s start with the SEC East this week, and focus on the SEC West next Thursday.
Florida – Over/Under 5.5
Florida is a tough one – I’m down on Billy Napier’s offense, I’m down on their quarterback situation, and I’m down on their schedule (trips to Utah and LSU; Florida State and Tennessee at home; Georgia in Jacksonville). But I love their running backs, and I like new defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong, and think there’s enough talent on that side of the ball to eke out six wins, even with the three division “coin flip” games all on the road (Missouri, Kentucky, SC). Missing a bowl game in year two would be frankly shocking, and the vibes would be a disaster in Gainesville if Sun Belt Billy answers an uninspiring year one with fewer than six wins the second time out. I lean under because I think there’s a chance things are going south, way south, right now, but ultimately it’s a stay away for me.
Georgia – Over/Under 11.5
This is the highest number on the board, and for good reason: the back-to-back defending champs have been a regular season juggernaut. While they only need to drop one regular season game for the underbet to win, in the past six years, Kirby Smart’s outfit has only lost five regular season games, and two of those were in the COVID 2020 season. Their last regular season loss in a normal year was the 2019 nooner double-overtime stumble in Columbia, South Carolina, and they just finished back-to-back undefeated campaigns. The counterpoint is that every year from 2017 through 2020, the Bulldogs would drop at least one game, and only with the QB Stetson Bennett/OC Todd Monken combo did they achieve perfection.
I think it’s probable Georgia trips up somewhere along the way – the defense will be only excellent, not historic. The offense will have growing pains with a new quarterback and a lesser play caller in Mike Bobo. Either game at Auburn or at Tennessee could be the one that breaks the streak. If you don’t believe Georgia will go 12-0, avoid placing a six-month long bet on a juiced number (-150 for the under!) and instead take one of the teams that you think has a fighting shot against the dynastic Dawgs on the money line.
Kentucky – Over/Under 6.5
It brings me no joy to report that I think Kentucky is going to be really good again in 2023. Mark Stoops has had Missouri’s number during his time in Lexington, and continually wins exasperating games against my beloved Tigers. Their defense should again be excellent this fall, and the offense will improve with new quarterback Devin Leary working under prodigal coordinator Liam Cohen. The Wildcats have one of the best receiving rooms in the conference, and a favorable September slate (Ball State - Eastern Kentucky - Akron, @Vanderbilt) to develop chemistry in the passing game. I’ll hold my nose and take the over.
Missouri – Over/Under 6.5
Inside you there are two Tiger fans: the one that says, “Six and a half wins?! Eli STINKwitz will never go over that! Mizzou is terrible, he can’t recruit, fire everyone, fold the program!!!” and the one that says, “Six and half!? That’s it!? Bang the over! Have you seen the returning defensive talent?? Blake Baker is the next Monte Kiffin! Ten wins MINIMUM! M-I-Z!!” Yes, I have seen the duality of the Tiger fanbase. Missouri won six games last season, despite only going 2-4 in one-score games. We know the defense is going to be excellent, and there are enough underrated moves on offense – new coordinator Kirby Moore, two starter transfers on the offensive line – to think the offense should improve from last season’s nadir. I’ll take the over, and that’s totally not a homer pick. Not one little bit.
South Carolina – Over/Under 6.5
Shane Beamer has kicked up South Carolina’s high school recruiting to the best levels since the Spurrier/pre-Dabo years, but I’m still down on the 2023 ballclub. Two supernova performances against Tennessee and Clemson masked a rather up-and-down year in Columbia. Yes, star receiver Juice Wells is back, but Jaheim Bell and Austin Stogner hit the portal, and five-star running back Marshawn Lloyd is off to USC. The offensive line is one big question mark, and the defense loses key pieces without much portal help. The Gamecocks have two dates with ACC foes: the season opener against Drake Maye and UNC and the season finale against Clemson. As usual, it’s a tough schedule, and I think they finish at exactly six wins. I’ll take the under, but the margin is very slim.
Tennessee – Over/Under 9.5
The Volunteers launched themselves into college football’s stratosphere and a ten win season thanks to the rocket right arm of Hendon Hooker operating Josh Heupel’s veer ‘n’ shoot offense. Hooker is off the NFL, along with some of the key playmakers from last year; Heupel’s system is designed like an academy team or 90’s Nebraska where the strength of the system determines the success, not the personnel. The Vols will be underdogs at Alabama and hosting Georgia, and you just need one other loss – at Florida? Texas A&M? – to fall short of ten wins. This number is right on the money for me, and with the concerns replacing Hooker, I’ll stay away.
Vanderbilt – Over/Under 3.5
Clark Lea’s bunch went over their win total (2.5) by the end of September last year, and then tacked on two conference wins in November for good measure. It’s a slow build in Vanderbilt, as the team didn’t hit the portal aggressively, and quarterback AJ Swann will be a true sophomore. The ‘Dores will get their first two – home for Hawaii and Alabama A&M – but then hit the road for Wake Forest and a UNLV team that could be tricky. After that it’s eight straight dates against conference foes, and last year’s competency will make it harder for Vanderbilt to sneak up on anyone. I lean under.